Freelance Writing: Simple Tips on Complicated TopicsExtracting Information: Don’t Miss Any of Those Important Ideas, PART 2

informational techniques Part 2 of our awesome article! Let’s not waste your time! And so…

Freelancing means putting our knowledge at the service of clients who may be quite desperate, at the moment. Our customers hope, and have a right to expect, that we will bring something to whatever document we are producing that the customer could not have thought of themselves.

In fact, a most painful client feedback comment is, “I could/should have done this myself”. How can we enhance the fund of ideas and information that we can contribute to orders? In an earlier blog post, we discussed a few ideas regarding paying attention to the quality of one’s media consumption, choosing, retaining, and reinforcing useful ideas, and using them in a document. Let’s examine some more ideas on fully exploiting the information stream that we wade in daily, to succeed in freelancing.

Keep assignment topics in mind at all times – make connections to both topics on which you have written, and other topics that have appeared in available orders. Make note of topics that you have examined with the intention of bidding, and especially those that intrigued you. Perhaps you were scooped by another, swifter, bidder, but perhaps instead, you were hesitant about how current your knowledge was.

As you accumulate a mental list of compelling subjects, keep your eyes open for specific information or ideas that could prepare you to write about them in the future. For example, with some distance and the perspective of time, the Enron scandal is increasingly a viable topic, as evidenced by some recent orders. This trend should be a cue to keep one’s ears open for analytical articles explicating the Enron mess in thoughtful journals.

Use the opportunity to refresh your memory on some of the arcane details of the case. From the other direction, treasure every experience you have as a source of ideas for future writing. Let us say you have passed through the huge Sol Lewitt retrospective at MassMOCA.

Take note of the exhibit, even if you don’t particularly enjoy it. You will be better prepared to write about his seminal conceptual art ideas, albeit at a basic level, unless you have some solid art history background. You can be sure that there will be clients floundering in their efforts to verbalize anything meaningful about conceptual art, and putting in orders on this topic at some point.

Maximize your exposure to interesting and well-constructed arguments that are relevant to future writing assignments. Choose your reading from weekly or (better still) monthly journals that cover issues in depth, in preference to daily or tabloid publications. Foreign Affairs, The Economist, or Atlantic Monthly will offer more long-term perspective (usually, and with apologies to the editors of these publications) than the New York Daily News or even People.

While daily newspapers are a great source of information, the amount of space and research time that are devoted to each story is necessarily limited. Additionally, a longer format means that the writing is more discursive, balanced, and nuanced. These more serious organs often use a more sophisticated vocabulary. If you find vintage copies of the late William F. Buckley’s publication, the National Review, in a second-hand pile, do, please, scoop them up. We should all read them simply to learn the use of wonderful words that few of us employ with enough frequency.

There is an online version of this magazine and others as well. Publications such this also hire some of the best writers in the business.

As you fish for orders, make a mental (or add to your info file) note of the books and short stories, texts and themes that appear over and over again in available orders through the months and years. These ‘old reliable’ topics recycle regularly. Shakespeare will be studied – you can be sure. Know his stuff, even if he puts you to sleep. Think about how texts are grouped together.

Consider that some subgenres of literature still, blessedly, have a limited reading list. For example, The Yellow Wallpaper will show up again, because the roster of early women fiction writers is limited … so far.

If you can master the greatest hits of a specialized subgenre (e.g., South American magical realism, Arabic women’s fiction), you are golden. If you read one unfamiliar story or book for an assignment, undertake a smidgeon of extra research, and determine if there are similar such works that might appear in a course or be a good source for use in completing future orders.

Amazon actually will accomplish this for you with minimal effort on your part, if you pretend to be ordering a book. They apply their proprietarily developed algorithms to locate and display equivalent works for you to purchase, given the book on which you have already clicked.

There are still more strategies out there – keep checking this spot for more ideas! Until then, keep your eyes and ears open, and build your knowledge base for freelance writing success!

As a teaser I can tell you that there’s going to be part 3 to this article:) So follow us and don’t miss anything!

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